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that I can say nothing but what is the most common-place. I may, however, just notice what apparently trifling circumstances lead to the most wonderful results in the world of mind, as well as in the world of matter. The fall of the apple led to the demonstration of the existence of the great law of gravitation, and to the fact that matter in motion will not suspend that motion without the interposition of some other power; and the converse. I may observe also, how useful is the habit of constantly making observations on everything we see. Here the reflection of one person on one of the simplest and commonest occurrences in the world, led to calculations and experiments and demonstrations, and to treasures of knowledge which have astonished all nations, have completely overturned the opinions held by wise men for ages, and have opened fields of inquiry and stores of kæowledge for all future ages, which had never been thought of before."
“ Secondly, I was led to think also of that peculiarity in the mind of man which renders everything interesting which is consecrated by genius or rendered venerable by antiquity. Perhaps no person who has any taste for literary pursuits is less quick at perceiving the beauties of nature or art than I have been, or of perceiving wherein they are interesting. But let me have an opportunity of examining an object of that kind, and I immediately feel the glow of enthusiasm. I know not how it is. Perhaps if I were surrounded by as many of these curiosities as I am with the beauties of nature, they would become equally uninteresting. I am apt to think that it was for want of having my taste early exercised, and through having all my subsequent observations confined to objects and places with which I was familiar in my childhood. But perhaps this thought is the offspring of vanity, and may arise from my unwillingness to believe that I am deficient in anything that is admired.”
Under date of Oct. 23, 1837, after having had some interruption in his usual employment, he writes, “I have now got to work. I shall have to make the best use of every moment of time. Logic and grammar I can study in the machine. The Bible and Wesley's sermons I must study every day. Arithmetic and book-keeping stand next; then Blair; then Composition; then D'Oyley, Dr. Clarke's Life, Paley, Young, &c. as occasion may serve. I have received my plan for the next quarter. I am out every Sunday but one; nearly all of them are double, and some of the most important places: two fresh ones; namely, Ruddington and Beeston. Lord, who is sufficient for these things ?”
His views and feelings in reference to the work of God in which he was now engaged, and his extended sphere of labour, are expressed under date of Nov. 12. “Praise the Lord for the rich blessings of another Sabbath! I preached at Ruddington to-day for the first time, I felt rather to fear the importance and respectability of the congregation: but I had considerable liberty in the morning, after I had got over the feeling of strangeness. In the afternoon I visited two sick people : my heart was warmed. I then attended a prayer meeting in the vestry. The Lord was with us; and at night his Spirit was poured out upon the people, and souls were saved. There was less of human exertion, and more of the power of God than I usually witness. God is carrying on a good work there, as well as in other places in the circuit.”
Many eyes were now upon him, and the opinion that God was preparing him for the entire dedication of himself to the work of the ministry was spreading. In the middle of the week ending with Nov. 18, the superintendent of the circuit sent for him, and requested him to take the appointnent of one of his colleagues, in three villages, for that and the two following evenings. In reference to them he writes, “I undertook them, although it was my night shift,"—that is, it was the week in which it was his turn to do night work: he proceeds, “but it has so happened that we have been waiting for cotton, so that I have been entirely at liberty.”
In the following week he expresses his intention to begin the habit of keeping a “Common-place book; adopting Locke's method, with a little
alteration,” And in the early part of December he reviews his own intellectual progress, proposes to himself a new method of study and increased assiduity in the acquisition of knowledge; and remarks, " I am especially called to industry and faithfulness now, for the Lord appears to be opening my way into a more extensive sphere of usefulness.” The superintendent had talked of proposing him for the itinerant work. This had come to the ears of his mother, who was his informant on the matter. He laments his own deficiencies, and the slenderness of his acquisitions and qualifications for such an undertaking, but consoles himself with the reflection, “If God has called me to the work, he has given me such talents as He saw would be necessary
usefulness." His resolve was to make the best he could of the talents he possessed, whatever they might be; to seek an increase of grace; to give up every idol; and to devote himself to Christ alone.
In the latter part of the month of December he attended a Missionary meeting at New Basford, when his heart was affected with what he heard of the state of the heathen, especially in Africa, as described by a returned missionary; and his exclamation is, “Oh, if I were fit for the work, how gladly would I say, Farewell friends, connexions, home, happy country! O God, if it be thy will that I should go, fit me for the work, and open the way before me.”
On Christmas Day he preached at a village, and records the encouraging fact, after severe self-upbraidings and lamentations, " I saw several who professed to find salvation the last time I was at They continue to meet in class, and I suppose are consistent in their conduct; and certainly their looks seemed to say that they had heaven in their hearts. To God be all the glory!" In saying, “I suppose they are consistent in their conduct,” his meaning probably is, that he had been given to understand that such was the fact; it being very common for the people of Nottinghamshire to use the verb to suppose, in the sense of to understand from information given by others.
In reviewing the year at its close, he remarks: “ With reference to my spiritual state, it has been the best year of my life; for though I am very far from being satisfied with my state, yet I am more alive to spiritual things than ever ; I have clearer views of the things of God; I have a greater desire for holiness, a more ardent wish to be useful
, and a more complete resignation to the will of God than ever. May God save me fully!” The last day of the year was the Sabbath. On that day he preached at two of the most distant places from his home, one of them nearly nine, and the other ten miles off; he then returned home, arriving at about a quarter past eleven o'clock; when he attended the watch-night service, at which he “spoke a short time with some liberty and power."
At the commencement of the year 1938, he speaks of his improvement in the habits of his mind with some degree of satisfaction. “ I perceive that I shall be able to form habits of close application, and that as it becomes habitual it becomes pleasant. I often hear persons say that they cannot study; but I believe in a great majority of cases the difficulties might be overcome by perseverance. I have often found it difficult to confine my mind to a train of thought, but I find that by continued efforts I shall succeed.”
In the month of June this year he was called to take the work of one of the travelling preachers in the Mansfield circuit for one Sabbath; and during the summer he preached in Sherwood and other places out of doors. On the appearance of the new plan in October, he observes that he is appointed every Sunday of the quarter, that all are double appointments, and that Christmas-day also makes a demand upon his services. No complaint of being overworked escapes from his pen. On the contrary, his exclamation is, “ Praise God for the honour of being employed in so noble a cause, and employed so much !"
On the 25th of February, 1839, Brother Skevington preached his trial sermon in Halifax Place Chapel, Nottingham, as a candidate for the missionary work. In reference to this service he remarks, “I felt considerably embarrassed. This was occasioned by my feeling more concerned about the opinions of men, and what they would think of
me, than I was to please God and to save souls. During the first prayer and the first part of the sermon this was especially the case. In the latter part of the sermon I rose above it in some measure. But thank God! notwithstanding my unfaithfulness, good was done. We had a very good prayer meeting, and three from Sherwood professed to obtain liberty, and since then they appear to be walking consistently." He was heard by three of the travelling preachers, Mr. Cusworth (the superintendent), and Messrs. Pengelly and Wilcox: and by several local preachers and leaders. The compiler of this memoir, on referring to his own diary under this date, finds the following remarks in reference to the missionary candidate : "He has a good voice, but not a graceful delivery. His manner was fervent, but his mind evidently wants culture, store, and training." The embarrassment experienced by the candidate himself accounts for any ungracefulness of manner that might strike an observer, and in part for the appearance of deficiency to a degree exceeding the reality of the case. On two other evenings of the same week he preached in country places near the town, when he was heard by the other two travelling preachers upon the circuit; viz., Mr. Methley, and Mr. H. D. Lowe. On the Saturday he had an interview with the superintendent, who instructed him to read the Large Minutes of Conference, Mr. Wesley's Appeals, Sermons, &c. (including, no doubt, the Notes on the New Testament), before the District Meeting. He advised him also to get on with grammar and arithmetic.
On the 15th of May he underwent the usual examination at the district meeting held in Derby for the missionary work of Methodism, and was accepted. He speaks of himself and three other candidates for itinerant service as a companions in tribulation,” and says, “We all passed. But it was a most humbling season ; though one which I believe would do us all good. The gate into the Methodist ministry is narrow ; but not at all too narrow ; as the work is infinitely important, and the temptations to enter it from worldly considerations are considerable. From such an object may God deliver me!”
The time now approached for the transposition of John Skevington as a soldier of the Great Captain of our salvation, by his removal out of the honourable ranks of the local ministry of Methodism into the more honourable ranks of its heroic and self-denying missionaries : a transition ever to be regarded-all ecclesiastical reasons apart—as grand and glorious. The Conference was being held at Liverpool, whither he went on Tuesday, July the 31st. On the following Tuesday, he and four other accepted candidates breakfasted with the missionary secretaries, after which they were admitted into the Conference. On the following Friday he returned home, in order to prepare for leaving the country, being required to be in Bristol on the 3rd of September.
As a local preacher we have now done with him. He left the country as a missionary of the cross under the banner of Methodism, destined for New Zealand. Many interesting letters were written by him during his voyage and from the places of his location abroad, first in Australia and afterwards in New Zealand. A journal, teeming with interest, also survives him. His career was but a brief one. We set out with chronicling his decease. Not as a man of letters and science, but as a teacher of the “truth as it is in Jesus,” he went forth ; and in that he was not unsuccessful. God blessed him and made him a blessing. Before going out he had resumed an early connexion with a young person who cast in her lot with his. They were married just before setting sail. Her fate was to lose her husband in a heathen land, but a land in the process of Christianisation, partly by his labours ; and to return to her native country a widow, with two fatherless children.
Abundance of materials exist for an ample volume, or more than one volume of memoirs of the deceased : but, careful as we have been in selecting extracts from his diary, and much as we have been obliged to discard, the present memoir has already extended beyond a convenient length for the pages of this magazine. We purposely hasten, therefore, to a conclusion, without offering either reflections or remarks of our own, with the Conference summary of his life and character, as given in the “ Minutes” of 1846.
“He was one of the missionaries who sailed in the “ Triton," and joined the New Zealand mission, where he was honoured by his Lord and Master with a large amount of success. His piety and zeal carried him through difficulties of no ordinary magnitude. Though he did not possess those talents which are usually termed great, he was a good and faithful servant, whom the Master owned in the salvation of many. He was greatly beloved by the natives, among whom he exercised the influence of a father and a friend. By his brethren in the New Zealand mission he was esteemed as a man of God, and a faithful missionary. He had travelled a journey of twenty days to be present at the Auckland district meeting, where he preached a useful sermon on the Wednesday, and died on the Sunday evening following, September 21st, 1845. His death was awfully sudden, He had gone with his host to the chapel ; and shortly after the sermon commenced, he fell down, and was carried into the vestry a dead man. His brethren could only weep over him ; and the natives of his charge, about seven of whom had accompanied him through the long journey, wept also, and said, Our father is gone to heaven : he has fulfilled his commission : but our sorrow is for his widow and child, and for ourselves, for we now are orphans. Where shall we look for another father and pastor ?””
THE IMPOLICY OF PERSECUTION FOR OPINIONS.—All violence exerted towards opinions which falls short of extermination, serves no other purpose than to render them more known, and ultimately to increase the zeal and number of their abettors. Opinions that are false may be dissipated by the force of argument; when they are true, their punishment draws towards them, infallibly, more of the public attention, and enables them to dwell with more lasting weight and pressure in the mind. The progress of reason is aided, in this case, by the passions, and finds in curiosity, compassion, and resentment, powerful auxiliaries.-Robert Hall,
Illustrations of Christian Experience.
“I WANT A SUITABLE SPHERE." if we would follow on, we shrink from BY FATHER JOHN.
what appears a strange task. Strange
it is to "the old man" within us, whe"A place for every man, and every man in ther he be reigning unchecked, or whehis place."
ther he be partially subdued and in a “How is it that you do not get on, dying condition. Jonas ?"
Samuel spoke an axiom richly Well, Father John, I really can't fraught with practical lessons when say: I have been like a fish out of he said to Saul, “To obey is better water, of late-can't move a fin with than sacrifice, and to hearken than the comfort. I suppose I want a suitable
fat of rams.”
Remember the first sin sphere.”
ever committed in our world, and the How many thousands of " well- nature of the temptation which led to meaning” persons are there who, if it. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing questioned thus, might, if they would, good and evil.” As if the tempter give a similar answer?
would insinuate “Eat of the fruit of the sphere-alas ! for it. The person that tree and your knowledge shall be may be at once a drone and a genius- increased, your sphere of action shall a vagabond and a hero, if only you will be enlarged, your position in God's be so kind as to lay everything like universe will be elevated, and you
will blame upon the sphere."
be the better able to serve both yourSometimes it is "the world,” some- selves and God by the change.' And times “society," sometimes “human further, “ if you eat with such a motive, nature,” that is made responsible for God, if he be good indeed, cannot be the short-comings and backward- angry with you, but will rather comgoings, and round-about inventions of mend your zeal in obeying that law of those individuals who flatter them- progress which he has made a part of selves that they mean well although
In this manner the they never do well. Seldom, if ever, tempter would studiously keep out of do they think of looking within.
view the immediate and constant neIt is unnecessary to remind the cessity for implicit faith in what God readers of the “ Christian Family has spoken, and the vital importance Record” that we reproach the great of instant and entire obedience to his Disposer of persons and things when sovereign will. Safety, strength, and we complain of our lot, and find fault
progress, lay in a perfectly acquiescent with our sphere;—that we are guilty obedience, not in meddling with the of most presumptuous wrong-doing reins of government. when we attempt, in opposition to His "A deceived heart" turned Eve will, to alter it. But, merely to give aside, and myriads of her children a ready assent to assertions which are launch their all upon a similar venincapable of being controverted, is a ture, and make shipwreck of faith upon very different thing from a cordial the same rock. Innumerable voyagers practical acknowledgment of their start fair and sail briskly, who yet truth. Of most of us it may be said, perish by this under-current of selfin reference to many important points, deceiving. There is a fortune to be that we are very complaisant, but ha- won, and it is supposed that a vast bitually neglectful, and therefore, dis- deal of good may be done with it when obedient children. OUR FATHER bids it is obtained. “Put your shoulder to
'go work to-day in his vineyard,” the wheel,” cries the tempter ; and we immediately reply, "I go, sir,' early, go to bed late; be a man of one but we go not, If doctrines and duties pursuit-get gold, leave everything could be divorced, we should make ex- else in abeyance until the convenient cellent students of God's word; but as
The Scripture says, it is necessary to obey in order to learn Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, -to “follow on” if we would know do it with all thy might,' &c. Now the Lord, and to exercise implicit faith it is plainly necessary to push hard